Should I go back to Medical school AFTER becoming a PA?
Specialties interested in: Internal or Emergency Medicine
Here are my personal thoughts:
I don't like to disparage my profession, but the way we learned medicine was through memorization of algorithms and buzz words. We were not taught the basics of science from a molecular level working upwards. We basically skipped step 1 and went straight into step 2 clinical knowledge. Doctors can see and understand things we cannot. And make connections that we cannot. I think this is what I am craving for. To be that kind of an “expert.” To understand medicine at that level and solve complex cases. I think the funny stereotypical word for this is “mental masturbation” or “intellectually stimulating” haha. I have the personality type of being the best in whatever I do. I feel limited in that sense as a PA.
Financially, I would say I am kind of lucky. I wouldn’t normally tell this to people, but just to give you guys an idea of my situation. I actually don’t have any loans or interests at the moment after PA school. I paid out of pocket. But I was given some personal loans from close families and friends. I do have to pay them back eventually, but there is no time limit. And they would understand if I decide to pursue medical school. I would still have to take the MCAT, apply, do interviews, and then start the following year (this could take 2-3 years; here I could work as a full time PA and save money for medical school). The medical schools in my state are $100k for 4 years. Which is not bad compared to the crazy $200-400k type of other medical schools.
For family life, wouldn’t it still be possible to have? Instead of working 8 hours a day, I would be studying or going to lectures. And then spend time with my family. Especially since I am not a typical pre-med student. I will be entering with a stronger background knowledge from PA school. However I do understand that the residency years will take a huge toll on my work/life balance for 3 years. (My mom or future wife would still have an income during the 4 years of medical school).
But at the end of it all, won’t I truly be knowledgeable in a field of medicine, from basics to advanced. With the reward of earning a higher income and becoming a doctor (not what I’m going for, but still a benefit). I will be done around age 35 and can work 30 more years until 65. Won’t the money gain as a doctor in that time cover any expenses I had? And then be able to teach the next generation as well, confidently. I have a desire to teach as a professor at PA or MD/DO programs. And precept as well.
This is my current thought process, BUT if you guys think that I am delusional or crazy, please call me out on it! Give me reasons why staying as a PA from age 26 will be better for my life in the long-run. And to not make the mistake of going to medical school for 7 years, with unnecessary stress. I want to hear both sides and arguments really well.
How different is the autonomy in internal or emergency medicine between PA and MD/DO? Can I learn step 1 on my own while working as a PA, and be just as knowledgeable and happy? Or is the in-depth training of medical schools and residencies unmatched? And no amount of clinical experience as a PA can ever replace that? (I have my own thoughts of course since I have done clinical rotations, I just want to hear from what you guys think).
***Here are some more of my thoughts that I just private messaged someone:***
Thank you so much for replying, I really need guidance in my life. I am confused and don't know WHAT path is actually WORTH taking.
I love medicine. I have grown super passionate about it. I also love academia. I watch a lot of medical school vlogs and wish I went through the rigorous schooling like they did. PA school felt like a joke to me. It was mainly memorizing buzz words, without understanding the "why's".
Now, I know I can learn the why's using third party resources on my own - like sketchymedical, boards and beyond, pathoma, premade anki decks, etc. However, if I am going to do that, why not do it through medical school and get rewarded with prestige, money, and autonomy?
But that does come with its cons - such as a losing lost income as a PA, family time, and basically life. For 7 years.
I am interested in Internal medicine (hospitalist) or Emergency Medicine. What I want to really know is if there is a huge difference in autonomy, day-to-day job/tasks, etc. Because if it's 90% of the same job, then I am not sure if 7 years of medical school is worth it for me. I know people recommend PA to MD if you want to go into either surgery or a specialization of some sort.
Basically, is 7 years of medical school worth it for me (I am single and 26 years old; I only need the MCAT to most likely get into this DO program in my home city; this way I can be with family and friends and not miss out on life events). It seems like a fun journey to me, something that I would look forward to.
But there is this other easier, more convenient, and relaxing path - which is to remain as a PA and practice medicine. Earning a six figure salary. Living life. And also studying step 1 material with the resources I mentioned earlier.
*sigh* Do you see my dilemma here. Like what is the right path for me - in terms of happiness, life, money, etc.
If I were to redo my years of schooling, I would 100% choose medical school. But because I finished PA school and am interested in specialties that might not be that different as a doctor, is it worth it? Because I do realize I will have to go through numerous standardized examinations - MCAT, Step 1, Step 2 CK, Step 3 CS, and residency boards. Also the stress of interviews, applications (both initial and for residency), research papers, etc.
Or will I always regret not going back for medical school?
I know there are a bunch of other LECOM/APAP posts but anyways here we go! I was just accepted into next years APAP (PA>DO 3 year) program as an undeclared seat. I applied to the program almost a year ago when I was very frustrated, working at an urgent care and receiving little respect, autonomy, and poor pay.
Now I work in Family Med, practice with near autonomy, and am compensated incredibly well given that it’s FM (150-180k). I love my job and for every 1 ignorant patient I have that “wants to see the real doctor”, I have 10 that refuse to see anyone but me.
Me: 29yo, practicing 3 years, living in Florida, newly engaged, no kids.
The APAP program consists of 2 years that must be done in Greensberg, Pennsylvania and year 3 of clinicals can be done near home. Then it’s 3+ years of residency that I guess could end up being anywhere. I would choose either Emergency Med or Family Practice
Money: not really a factor. Between lost income, tuition, living expenses, I would look at a cool $1 million I estimate over 6 years. And if I remain in family med, the salary increase isn’t huge. EM would be significant though
Scope: I work autonomously, but in a team setting, which I believe medicine should always be. Docs consult with docs, PAs with NPs; it’s team based but still autonomous. Of course in EM, the scope would be greatly increased (at least in Florida)
Respect: some patients would stop being idiots about how they treat me, and I would have less push back from insurance, hospitals, etc. And administration would stop treating me as a “mid level” (a phrase i detest).
Knowledge: I believe experience = knowledge, not schooling. I have learned much more in 3 years of practice than in 2 years of PA school. Residency would be very valuable, but I’m exposed to new things daily as it is and am always expanding my knowledge and skills.
The decision to go or not is huge and it’s eating me up. I’m hoping some outside opinions from fellow PA’s might help. I have to give a decision in 2 weeks!
Hi everyone! Your suggestions were really helpful last time, so I decided to post here again!
I have been thinking about my plans after undergrad lately and I feel unsure about what I want to do. To be honest, I initially did not want to pursue the medical field because I thought it was not right for me. However, after taking some classes and volunteering at the hospital, I have found that I really enjoy it. I absolutely love the field of neuroscience/neurology and thought I should become a PA to work in that field. However, I have been discussing my plans lately with my classmates and they have suggested that I pursue medical school instead because it will allow me to "enjoy" neurology more than if I were a PA.
I originally thought PA school would be a better choice because it takes only about 2-3 years and you are able to do most of the things a physician does. The only problem is that PA school requires some HCE, which may take about a year or two (at least for me because I have only been volunteering at the hospital). Although medical school is 4+ years, they concentrate on your GPA and MCAT scores over HCE and that would mean I just need to take my MCAT and a few classes and I will be good. I think both paths are doable and I am planning on taking a year off, so I could either concentrate on my HCE if I choose the PA path, or work on my MCAT for the med school path.
As a side note, I am not pursuing these careers because of the pay. Rather, I want to be able to be in the field of neurology and work with patients, while still getting to understand the mechanisms of the brain. Supposedly I will have a better opportunity to do this if I were a MD/DO, but is that really true?
What are your thoughts/suggestions?
Thank you in advance!!
Good Evening All,
I have been contemplating this for some time. LECOM has developed a 3 yr PA-->DO program. The pass rates and scores have been above the national average and the matches look pretty good. I am getting out of the Army soon. Ive been in for 8 yrs (only part as a PA) and will be 29-30 at the time of matriculation.
The question: I am eligible for 36 months of Post-911 GI bill that will cover about 80-90% of the cost of school plus living expense (about 1300$ monthly) as well as books. This is a veteran right and requires no additional service. My loans after school would be roughly 25K or less (dependent on savings). I have no debt now. I might be eligible for a grant that would cover the rest and essentially get a free doctorate.
I never worked in the civilian world as a PA and have been 99% autonomous since day 1 out of school. I deployed within a couple months of arriving to my first PA assignment. I was in a role 1 hours away from the nearest provider. I have only worked an odd mixture of primary care with emergency medicine. Hard to explain this odd niche we fill. Fellow Army PAs can attest.
Will I be un-happy as a PA in the civ world? If you were in my shoes, what would you do? I have all the pre-req for the school and got a 4.0 in PA school. I was a human bio major with all the med-school pre-reqs. All I would have to do is submit a packet to the medical school and hopefully get accepted. No MCAT, no classes.
The only specialities I would be interested in is E-Med, Anesthesiology or possibly internal medicine with the possibility to do a fellowship later on in critical care or infectious disease. These seem to be a mid-competitive specialty and should be pretty easy to match to.
It seems like as a PA working E-Med, you will be doing the same work for a 1/3rd the pay and always having someone trying to critique your work. Also, I wouldnt mind working in academia when Im older and participating in case studies and research with some of the techniques, drugs and procedures I have seen and done by working alongside dozens of different NATO nations. I feel as a PA, my ideas may just get snuffed out.
What kind of salary and benefits could one expect with 6yrs experience? Looking for E-Med, Traum Surg, Neruosurg.
What will my scope of practice and daily hours look like? If PAs work significant less hours of work, I would be okay with the pay difference. Im assuming most work 40-50 alongside the docs.
Thank you all for your time. I appreciate all responses. I enjoy what I do now and absolutely love medicine. I just dont want to roll around to 40 years old and look back at all those years and wished I would have just sucked it up for 3 years.
I'm a 28 year old male and I have just been accepted to a great PA school and I will start in June. After shadowing a PA friend I felt like the career is great and a good fit for me. I am married and plan to start having kids in the next year or two and my wife will be a stay at home mom. I want to be there for my kids when they are young and as they grow up, and not tied down by my career. I definitely feel that medicine is the right choice for me and my personality and I believe i will be a good PA, However lately I have wondered if the DO route may in the long term give me more time to spend with my family and friends. To go the DO route I would need to go back and take a few more classes and take the MCAT of course, but I am afraid of being a PA and deciding to go to DO school 10 years from now, when It will be almost impossible to go back to school and study for the MCAT. I have read a little about the PA to DO bridge program, but it just knocks off a year of DO school and would still be difficult to go that route. and I would still have PA school debt to add to my Med school debt.
I know some PAs who have a great 8-5, 5 days a week job and do alright financially, but I am not sure how common that is. There are things I like about the PA career and there are things I like about the DO career, But by far the the main reason I decided to go the PA as opposed to DO route is that i will be out of school and working in two years and not still in Med school and doing my residency for the next 8 or so years. I do understand that I will probably be working a lot of hours as a new PA, just like as a new DO, but I wonder if in the long run as a DO I will be able to work fewer hours than I will as PA later in life. I understand that the answer to this question will be different depending on the person and the location, but I want to hear from current PAs if they are satisfied with the time they have with family and friends compared to the physicians they have worked with or currently work with. I also want to get an idea of how many hours a week are common for an established PA, making around an average salary. Thanks for your feedback.